The birth rate in the Northern NSW Local Health District has continued its downward slide of the past five years, with 2557 babies born in 2015, a reduction of 2.7 per cent since 2011, three times the statewide average.

The state at large recorded 0.9 per cent fewer births than in 2011.

The statistics were revealed in the NSW Mothers and Babies 2015 report.

They also show the region having the state’s second highest percentage of young mothers (after the Far West), with 12-19 year olds accounting for more than one-in-twenty deliveries.

The eighteenth annual snapshot of birthing practices and outcomes in NSW shows that the percentage of teenage mothers in NSW fell from 3.2 per cent in 2011 to 2.5 per cent in 2015, less than half the Northern NSW figure.

In our region, 92.5 per cent of births were in hospitals, with 44.6 per cent of those in a birth centre. The area had the state’s highest number of planned home births (1.4 per cent), and the state’s equal-highest number of babies born before arrival at hospital (1.3 per cent, the same as in Southern NSW).

Mothers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent accounted for 9.4 per cent of births, the state’s fourth highest total.

UCRH Director Prof Ross Bailie

The need to further expand medical services in non-urban Australia has attracted early New Year attention, with the peak body for University Departments of Rural Health seeking a national director to help build the health workforce in rural and remote Australia.

Meanwhile the Royal Australian College of General Practice has said building workforce capacity depends on exposing Australian medical students early to rural areas, rather than continuing to rely on placing overseas trained GPs.

 “I think it is far more attractive now for Australian graduates to work in rural areas,” said RACGP president Bastian Seidel who is urging the federal government to remove GPs from the skilled migration occupations list.

Australian graduates are now able to meet the workforce needs of rural Australia, where overseas trained doctors are currently required to work for up to ten years, he added.

The recruitment process launched by the Australian Rural Health Network (ARHEN) is aimed at finding “a strategic thinker with strong policy and advocacy skills, an effective communicator, and [someone] experienced in government.”

Heart - the inside story of our body’s most important organ

By Johannes Hinrich von Borstel

Scribe $29.99

The splendidly named author of this ambitious and generally successful work was an early-age (15 years, work experience) paramedic, now a doctor and an aspiring cardiologist, and ‘one of Germany’s most successful science-slammers’.

Nor surprisingly, then, the book is a blend of paramedical anecdote, cardiology theory, and folksy tips about things we can, and should, do to keep our hearts healthy. Have more sex, for example.

In a chapter titled ‘Bedroom Sport for the Heart’, presumably a popular slam topic, he writes about a candlelit room, empty wine glasses, discarded clothing, Marvin Gaye music… “This trail of clothes leads to a couple engaged in an intensive workout. What they’re doing is not only a lot of fun, but also good for their hearts.”

Unless, I suppose, they’re not healthy in the first place and one or other suffers a cardiac arrest in flagrante. Come to think of it, the uber-fit Bruce Lee died from one of those whilst engaging in some extra-marital bedroom kung fu.

The broad thrust (pun intended) of the chapter is that the benefits of bonking are undeniable: “Bedroom sport provides a great way to combine physical exertion with stress-reducing effects while protecting our bodies by means of the hormones that sexual intercourse releases inside us”.

However, he does add a caveat about the risks: “Vigorous sexual activity can be counterproductive to the health of those with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions… it isn’t effective as a cure.”

Waiting times for access to community paediatric services are long. At GPSpeak's request Dr Jackie Andrews offers the following advice to improve the patient's journey as well as the efficiency of this valuable resource. 

GPs are often asked to do a referral to a paediatrician for children who have difficulties with their behaviour in the home or school environments. Developmental delay is another common reason for referral. GPs will greatly assist if they can get some initial assessments organised prior to the paediatrician appointment.  

Important areas are:

  • Ensuring hearing and vision are screened if clinically indicated.
  • Asking the school to forward a summary letter of concerns to the relevant paediatrician, as well as forwarding any other reports including school counsellor reports prior to the appointment.
  • Ensuring the family brings with them any reports from Allied Health workers or others involved already with the child. 
  • Assessing and managing any sleep difficulties or medical issues that may be impacting on the child.
  • Assessing and managing any mental health, drug and alcohol or other issues affecting the parents that may impact on the child in the home environment.

The more information that we are given by the GP the more thorough our assessment can be. If you are aware of issues within the family environment that may be impacting on the child could you please include this information in referrals.

The North Coast Primary Health Network (NCPHN) is streamlining their requests for tenders (RFTs) process for primary health care services on the North Coast by using Tenderlink's web portal. 

Tenderlink is an Australian online procurement market place linking public sector and private organisations with businesses for the supply of goods and services. Established in 1994 it been used by the NCPHN since September 2016. 

Tenders to date have focused on the transfer of Headspace facilities in Tweed Heads and Lismore to external parties and the running of various suicide prevention and drug and alcohol programs.